A British businessman who drove his Citroen van 1,300 miles across Europe to rescue his Ukrainian wife has blasted red tape bureaucracy keeping him from taking her home.
Steve Lucas, 65, travelled through five countries after wife Anastasia, 51, called to say her fifth floor apartment in the capital Kyiv was ‘shaking all the time’ from Russian bomb and missile attacks.
The floor fitter and part time chef grabbed some things from his home at Magor near Chepstow and in two days drove to the western Ukraine city of Lviv, where she was being housed by volunteers.
After spending 31 hours including a freezing night in the van – queuing to get back into Poland – the couple were devastated to learn Anastasia would not be allowed into Britain because she has no visa.
They now face weeks of waiting for approval at the British consulate in Krakow or a torturous drive to Paris or Brussels for paperwork after friends warned them they would be blocked in Calais.
Steve, who met Anastasia seven years ago, said: ‘It’s unbelievable when you think about it.
‘Anastasia has been through hell and now she can’t even come home with me because she can’t get a visa.
‘Ok, there is paperwork and I understand that but she and others like her have been through a nightmare. Can’t Boris Johnson just let us in and sort all this out when people are back home?
‘I drove 1,300 miles to pick her up and I’m more than £2,000 out of pocket and who knows when I will be able to get us back.’
The couple have been married two years but Anastasia has been denied a tourist visa twice by the UK and hasn’t even been able to visit Steve after the Home Office suggested she would ‘stay on’.
This was despite the couple having a marriage certificate, photos of them together, proof of return ticket and documents showing she had an apartment and elderly mother in Kyiv.
Speaking of his red tape nightmare Steve added: ‘We’ve been told they won’t let Anastasia in when we get to Calais and after what she has been though it will push her to the edge.
‘If you are married like we are, why can’t this all be sorted out back in the UK ? Why do we have to drive to Paris, Brussels or Krakow ?
‘I don’t want her to have any more stress. I think if we get to the border and she is turned away at Calais it will finish her. She has been through hell.
‘When I told her we may have problem she was absolutely distraught – she hasn’t got hardly any clothes and she’s been traveling for almost a week.
‘I just want to get her back and worry about paperwork later.’